Author: Emily Pulham. Published: 2 October 2020 at 8:31pm
Written by: Harry Fitzpatrick
The one blot on Sunday’s terrific performance against Wolves was the injury to Ryan Fredericks. He pulled up in the 48th minute with what the club have announced as a low-grade muscle injury to his left hamstring. It was a disappointing end to his day as he had been a real threat down the right-hand side, whilst also nullifying any threat from Wolves. This was following on from another good performance in the 2-1 loss to Arsenal the previous week. Fortunately, he will only be side-lined for a week, but after a rocky first two seasons at the club he was beginning to show his ability in the new wing back system.
Fredericks was brought into the club after securing promotion with Fulham in the 17/18 season. He was hampered by an ankle injury and only made 18 appearances in all competitions. Pellegrini kept faith and promoted Ryan to first choice right back the following season, with the ageing Pablo Zabaleta dropping down the pecking order. Unfortunately, he struggled and despite making 27 league appearances, many fans were left crying out for a new right back in the transfer window. Alongside the release of Zabaleta in June, and youngster Jeremy Ngakia’s refusal to sign a contract extension, it was clear to see right back was a huge priority in the transfer window.
Ben Johnson is the only other right back at the club. He’s been with the Irons since he was seven and broke into the first team at the back end of last season, drawing praise from fans and pundits alike. Moyes backed him to compete with Fredericks for the starting gig this season yet Johnson struggled in pre-season. He started the 5-3 loss to Bournemouth in the Betway Cup and was withdrawn after just 25 minutes, suffering a torrid time against the second-tier outfit. This further intensified calls for a signing, but there was no news on the horizon. Johnson has played in what has been dubbed ‘the cup team’ and impressed in the 4-0 win over Charlton and 5-1 victory against Hull. He faced much sterner opposition against a high-flying and victorious Everton side and then Sunday against Champions League chasers Leicester. Harrison Ashby, who made his debut in the Hull win, will likely serve as his backup.
Fredericks’ knock seems to have served as a warning to the board, and it seems to have been recognised with the signing of Vladimir Coufal. He is a Czech right back who was reportedly suggested by Soucek, as they played together at Slavia Prague. He has international experience whilst also playing in both the Champions and Europa League for the Czech side, who made the quarter finals of the Europa League in the 18/19 season. He will offer good competition for Fredericks whilst also freeing up Johnson to play a backup role to Masuaku on the left. Price-wise, Coufal is a steal for someone with his experience in Europe’s elite competitions and ability teach a youngster like Johnson some invaluable lessons. With the benefit of him and Soucek already being friends, it shouldn’t take too long for Coufal to settle in the East End.
With it being just a week’s injury and the benefit of an international break to regain fitness, Fredericks injury shouldn’t have too big an impact. If anything, it may be seen as a positive as it’s given the board a kick up the backside to be active in the market. If Johnson struggles, Coufal is an even more brilliant option to come into the squad.